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Name: 1LT Michael David Helmstetler
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 06/19/1968 while performing the duty of Co-pilot.
Age at death: 23.1
Date of Birth: 05/22/1945
Home City: High Point, NC
Service: reserve component of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Unit: HMM-161
Service: U.S. Marine Corps.
The Wall location: 56W-031
Short Summary: Parachute got caught in aft rotor causing a blade to go through the cockpit, killing both pilots at Khe Sanh.
Aircraft: CH-46D tail number 153381
Service number: 0102685
Country: South Vietnam
MOS: 7562 = Pilot CH-46 Qualified
Primary cause: Hostile Fire
"Official" listing: helicopter air casualty - other aircrew
Length of service: 02
Location: Quang Tri Province I Corps.

Additional information about this casualty:
Mike Helmstetler ("Richard" in the book) and another pilot were killed when either a poncho liner or parachute flare got caught in the aft rotor system of their helicopter near Quang Tri and caused the overlapping rotor blades to desynchronize. One of the front blades came down and scooped out the cockpit just like a scoop through ice cream. Both pilot's legs were severed. One pilot lived for awhile and the other one had been hit in the head. The only apparent damage to the helicopter was the missing rotor blades and the front half of the cockpit was gone. From Bruce Lake's book "1500 Feet over Vietnam."

Reason: aircraft lost or crashed
Casualty type: Hostile - killed
married male U.S. citizen
Race: Caucasian
Religion: Protestant - no denominational preference
This record was last updated on 01/09/1997

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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